Mascots have to be unique and relatable in order to appeal to a qualified audience.
Animals can be vulnerable, relatable, adorable and funny — sometimes all at the same time. Audiences overwhelmingly respond to life-like mascots in advertisements and mascots have undergone a renaissance since the digital age. If your audience associates your brand with a likable mascot, sales and name recognition have the potential to undergo a healthy boost. However, like many things in the content marketing world, mascots aren’t for everyone.
Mascots have been around since the early 19th century, if not earlier. Sports teams started using live animals as mascots designed to bring good luck and intimidate the opposing team. In the time of Mad Men, brands found that using mascots improved brand recognition.
See also: Character-e Review
The First Mascots:
First Mascots Used
Mascots in the 50s and 60s:
Mascots in the 50s and 60s
Mascots in the 70s and 80s:
Mascots in the 90s and 2000s:
Why Mascots are Effective
Mascots are one of the most effective advertising tools. For years, mascots have been able to help children learn about even the most serious subjects, like forest fires, because kids relate to simple characters. Adults are no different. When we see someone relatable on television — with a familiar personality or problem — we become engaged. This is true whether you are talking about Internet videos, websites or product packaging.
In addition, animal mascots are effective because most people, regardless of age, find animals cute or endearing. We admire admire cats for their independence and dogs for their loyalty, which is why they’re so popular. Mascots take these relatable animals and give them an added human dimension in the form of human features, problems and culture.
How to Use Mascots
Mascots can translate to sales for your company, if used effectively. As with the rest of your marketing campaign, the most important thing to keep in mind is your target market. The type of mascot you use and what you do with it will differ depending on your target market.
If you cater mostly to families with children, you may want to use a “cuter” mascot such as a teddy bear, a frog or a cat or dog. You may also want to create a family of mascots for greater customer identification.
If you are marketing mainly to older people who have no children, you will want to use different mascots (see also: Dentist Authority Review). A tortoise or another hearty, smart animal will be a good fit.
No matter what mascot you choose, the final and most important rule of thumb is to give your mascot a unique personality. Few would have ever associated supplemental insurance with a duck before AFLAC. Now the unique campaign, specifically designed to get us to remember the name of an awkward acronym (American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus), is so successful that AFLAC enjoys the sort of name recognition usually reserved for titanic companies like McDonalds and Coca Cola.
Does your business have a mascot? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.
Only for four reasons:
- Attention - The advertiser wants its ads to burst out of the clutter of other messages
- Differentiation - They know that a good mascot, well-produced, brings personality to what would otherwise be a me-too boring message.
- Cost-Savings: The advertiser wants to save the high and risky costs of using a celebrity spokesperson, company executive or human spokesperson.
- Fans: Some smart marketers have learned that customers who become fans of a company can rally around its brand mascot the way sports fans love seeing costumed mascots at a game.
Mascots are used successfully in businesses that are seeking to communicate with two markets, external and internal. External communication is to customers and prospects; internal communication is to employees. Any organization can use a mascot to represent management to internal people.
There’s only one industry in which it’s hard to imagine employing a mascot to bring in customers. Funerals. But even there it’s likely that a mascot could be used in a pamphlet or video explaining some of the kinds of decisions that families need to make at the “time of need” or before.
Mascots are branding elements helping people better remember your company and product. By personifying your business through a recognizable entity (mascots are often based on people, simple objects and animals), they help your audience easier identify and remember your brand.
Mascots are incredibly effective marketing tools. They act as "spokes characters" that can endorse your company on a personal level. When comparing a celebrity endorsement for a product and a mascot endorsement for a product, it has been found that successful mascots can be both more efficient and less expensive.
If you think about it for a moment, you'll realize that we've been growing up surrounded by mascots. From schools to college team mascots, we have been getting older associating loyalty and excitement with all kinds of brand characters.
Related: Your Message in a Mascot
Whenever we talk about marketing a successful mascot, we usually see huge brands mentioned. Therefore it is easy to assume that it costs a fortune to market a successful mascot. The truth is, it can be both inexpensive and effective. Here are a few ideas:
Tie your mascot to your overall brand message
Mascots work together with other major branding components as names, logos, taglines, even calls-to-actions!
For instance, our site mascot, a little animated bee that answers users' questions, came from the "buzz" word in the brand name and with time it became the most essential connection among all our marketing elements:
- Our video instructions are led by the bee
- Our site "PRO packages" are called "Honey bee" and "Busy bee"
- Our slogans and ads incorporate the bee as well: "Bee awesome", "Bee popular", etc.
Amazingly, having a mascot actually encourages you to get more creative inspiring various ways to integrate the character into the marketing strategy. Incorporating our mascot into the overall site and design concept hasn't been expensive. If you get selective and picky, you can get most work done using Fiverr.
Paying about $20 a gig we were able to animate our mascot, find a kid-like "bee" voice-over for the videos and order banners effectively featuring the bee. If you have time to master some of these tools, you'll be able to handle most of the above work at home for free.
Related: The Secrets of 7 Successful Brands
You should align your brand character with all your marketing goals making it an essential part of each step in the conversion funnel. In case of our brand, for example:
- The bee is present inside most social media assets that attract site visitors
- The animated bee explains the questions in the FAQ section as well as talks in the explainer video
- The bee is present in the name of the site paid packages at the end of the conversion funnel.
By the time, the visitors get there, they already know the bee very well and thus they feel safe and confident to subscribe.
Here are a few more good examples of digital mascots becoming part of every marketing aspect.
Let your mascot have separate social media assets
As Adage rightfully noted, mascots are brands' best social-media accessories. Take a look at Aflac, for example: Their duck mascot has a separate Facebook page, Twitter account and Instagram stream. Each channel has its own audience and fans. They build loyalty of their own which they then transfer to the brand.
Social media channels cost you nothing to set up and they are fun to maintain. Reporting on your imaginary mascot life gives you more freedom than when you post to a corporate wall. Even in boring industries, a mascot can augment a company message through content and social media channels.
Your mascot can (and often should) actually live its own life providing you with alternative marketing channels.
Make a mascot part of your social media visual marketing strategy
Social media shares and accounts incorporating a mascot are reported to normally result in much higher engagement: The Nesquik rabbit triggers 51 percent moreshares, the Keebler Elves enjoy 203 percent more shares and Frosted Flakes' Tony the Tiger get 279 percent shares than those brands' non-character images.
It's a well-educated theory that people enjoy interacting with cute recognizable characters much more than engaging with the brand or a barely known representative. That comes especially true when we talk about social media sharing where "fun" component plays a major role.
Related: The 7 Tenets of Branding
Unlike logos, fun characters encourage casual communication which is the most important element of social media success. Even self-promotion is perceived well when it comes from a company mascot, not a company itself. Mascots are perfect social media spokes characters. Think how many more opportunities you have on social media with your mascot these days: Incorporate them into your holiday memes, travel pictures, visual quotes, etc.
Integrate a mascot into an influencer, social media contest strategy
Mascot toys work incredibly well as social media contest prizes, conference and trade show giveaway items, holiday gifts and souvenirs for important leads, clients and influencers.
Mascot-related toys don't have to cost a fortune. Turn to Etsy for custom-made stuffed animals or (which is even more budget-friendly) custom crochet toys. These can be incredibly effective influencer marketing material.